If ever a film was accurately named… Following Neeson’s reinvention as THE middle-aged action hero du jour, Non-Stop sees him reunited with Unknown director Collet-Serra for a mile-high concept thriller set pretty much entirely within the confines of a plane heading from New York to London. Original it isn’t. Terrific pedal-to-the-metal fun it most certainly is.
Neeson plays Bill Marks, a US Air Marshal struggling – but of course! – with personal demons and just going through the motions of his job. This is shown in standard movie shorthand: he starts his day with whisky, rolls his eyes at a few people in his way and is suitably gruff to his superiors. However, just in case you’re worried he’s, you know, a bit of an arse, he’s then ever-so-tender to an ickle girl who’s dropped her teddy bear. Aww, bless.
So, Bill’s life effectively distilled, the door closes, seatbelts are secured and the fun really begins. With the plane in the air, Bill receives text messages over the supposedly secure in-flight network: get the airline to pay $150m to a numbered account or a passenger will die every 20 minutes.
To say much more – or to accidentally catch the spoiler-packed trailer – will ruin your enjoyment. And that’s a crime because, basically, enjoyment is what this agreeably silly, 80s throwback, action-packed whodunnit is all about. Should you need more evidence of its testosterone levels, Non-Stop is produced by Joel Silver, and if that’s not an indication of old school, ass-kicking fun, I don’t know what is.
Neeson is, of course, as good as he has to be, and there’s solid support from Moore as the one passenger Bill can trust, McNairy as a nervy passenger and Stoll as a holidaying NYPD officer. Elsewhere, there are a lot of underwritten roles – Dockery’s insipid flight attendant, Nyong’o as a late replacement to the crew in particular – not to mention several moments of borderline painful dialogue.
However, the twists are decent, Collet-Serra keeps cranking the tension and, best of all, there are just about enough clues on screen for the eagle eyed to solve the mystery. You’d be pushed to give this more than three stars but if there’s a better, purer slab of three-star fun this year, I’ll be very surprised.
EXTRAS ★★ The behind-the-scenes featurette Suspense at 40,000 Feet (7:45); Interviews with cast members Neeson, Moore and Dockery, director Collet-Serra and producer Joel Silver (11:53); the featurette Non-Stop Action (5:14); and the theatrical trailer.